It Takes Two; a Customer Experience Measurement Strategy

World class multi-location brands leverage several measures to understand individual store performance. This is true across numerous industries, from restaurants to supermarkets to petro and convenience retailers to drug stores to department stores to hotels to banking and financial services organizations. However, not all stores are created equally. There are many factors that go into measuring how an individual location delivers on the brand promise. Financial metrics are an obvious metric—but tend to be in the rear view mirror. In Market Force’s modeling work, we have found that both delivery to brand standards (assessed through mystery shopping and audits) and customer experience metrics (surveys and call center data) can be lead metrics of financial performance. So how?

Location-level customer experience derives from two components:

  1. Operational execution—how well did the location deliver on the brand standard?
  2. The experiential factor—how did a customer feel about his or her experience?

Both operational and experiential measures tell a brand how its locations are delivering on the brand promise.

Operational Measures: Most brands leverage mystery shopping to understand their operational execution. This measure is a black and white, objective evaluation of exactly what happens at the store when a customer comes in. Were they acknowledged and greeted? Were they served properly? How quickly did they receive service? How long did it take them to check out? Were they thanked for their business? These are simple questions, answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses. In addition, shoppers can assess the sales process—did associates ask needs based questions, provide recommendations, and interact in a way that positively represents the brand. Mystery shopping enables a business to ‘inspect what they expect’. This feedback helps brands know where they are executing and where there are performance gaps.

Experiential Measures: Just as many businesses deploy customer experience surveys. This measure is more of a ‘shades of gray’ perspective; a subjective read on how a customer felt about their visit. Overall, how satisfied were they with their experience? How likely are they to return? How likely are they to recommend the store to a friend, family member or colleague? How do they feel about the value for the price paid? These questions are answered using both quantitative scales and open-ended text data. Leveraging both numeric and open-ended data will provide operators with the information they need to coach their teams to delight each and every customer.

With both measures in place, an organization has a truly holistic view of their location level CX, and change becomes a matter of acting on very specific behaviors. In our research across hundreds of multi-location businesses, we find that better performance on brand standards (as assessed by mystery shopping) has a high impact on the actual customer experience—customer satisfaction increases as locations deliver better on standards. In addition, our sophisticated financial models show that the actual behaviors of store staff and operational attributes of a store can predict financial metrics like same store sales, transaction counts and average transaction value. And these are the metrics that really matter.

For additional insight into this integrated approach, please see our “Better Together: Integrating Direct Customer Feedback and Mystery Shopping Data” white paper.

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Brad Christian is a Managing Director at Market Force and consults with retail and restaurant executives to design cost-effective customer experience measurement programs that help them protect their brand's reputation, delight guests and drive greater unit economics.

Making Sense of Sensors and Beacons

Many companies have invested in camera and beacon technology to track customers within brand locations. That data is very rich. How can you make sense of the plethora of information? We recommend tying behavioral data from these sensors to the subjective data supplied by customers.

For example, a Market Force partner uses sensor data to track cars and people at a gas station and convenience store. Data includes unique visitors, first time visitors, dwell time at certain stations (like the pump) and number of visitors entering the convenience store. This rich behavioral data can be combined with subjective survey data, contact center data, or mystery shopping data. Brands can examine:

  1. Relationship between dwell time and cashier service in the convenience store, and sales. Modeling can relate actual physical time spent in the convenience store to basket size and sales. It can extend to test hypotheses—like whether dwell time is related to cashier friendliness collected on your customer survey. And if that relationship exists, analytics can help determine what a cashier could do to ensure that a longer time spent in the store or at the register, ensures a higher number of items purchased.
  2. Bounced visitors. Real estate is an expensive investment. The number of bounced visitors who spend very little time at your location is a great indicator of abandonment. This information can be related to your mystery shop data to indicate whether the attractiveness, security, and cleanliness of your site discourages or draws in traffic.
  3. Average days between visits. This frequency metric will help you determine whether you have a steady clientele or new customers entering every day. That’s an implicit measure of loyalty and can be related to both customer satisfaction and loyalty card data.
  4. As a last example the number of people in a particular zone can be related to conversion rate. For example, three people might visit a zone that has a live sales person and only one purchases. Conversion rate could be related to the time spent with the sales person or the effectiveness of the sales person in positioning products. The latter would be measured through customer satisfaction surveys

With the use of GPS tracking in smart phones and the nearly ubiquitous implementation of cameras and sensors, your brand has the opportunity to link highly complex behavioral data with subjective perceptions and operational metrics like mystery shopping. A wealth of insights that your analytics team can mine to manage your business more effectively. To learn more about our location based services offering and/or analytics, schedule a briefing with us and we’ll be glad to have a conversation. 

 

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As Chief Strategy Officer, Cheryl aligns Market Force's strategic direction with our clients' strategic objectives. She oversees the North American client base, Analytics and Insights, Winnipeg Operations and Marketing. She has a Ph.D. in social psychology and broad business experience in both private and public companies.​

 

Use Cameras and Beacons to Understand Customer Experience

Multi-unit businesses strive to gain a better understanding of what truly happens across their expansive network of locations. Being in-tune with the nuances at the location level can be the difference between the success or failure of a brand.  Each location and each shift will either help or hurt in your quest for market dominance. To intimately understand performance we need answers to important questions. Questions like: Are staff interacting with customers? Are we managing queue times effectively? Are we seeing more or fewer customers walk through our doors? Are sales staff interacting with customers? 

Market Force is working with more and more clients who are investing in digital stores as a part of their customer experience management strategy. They are using camera and beacon technology to collect information on customer counts, dwell time, number of customers in line, and time for sales associates to approach customers. In turn, this objective data is combined with customer experience data to get the subjective perspectives on the experience itself, for example, how effective the sales associate was in ascertaining needs and making good recommendations.

The plethora of data can be overwhelming. How can you find the ROI in your camera, beacon, and customer experience data assets? Try these three tips to get started:

  1. In the retail space, cameras count the number of customers who enter the store and the POS system shows the number of transactions. That conversion rate is a key metric—and will vary across locations. Use your customer experience survey and mystery shopping data to explain the difference in conversion rates between your locations. Then set goals to drive improvements on what matters most.
  2. In the restaurant industry, focus on dwell line queues and how well staff greet and connect with customers. Focus on how to better engage staff and whether you have the right labor model to handle the queue and optimize transactions.
  3. Embed a customer experience survey in your app. Ask customers about their experience while they are in the store, and marry those perceptions with your beacon technology tracking in-store movements. Market Force now provides a software development kit for our survey technology to embed surveys in your app—and report on KnowledgeForce.

In a past post our CTO Ben Dards wrote about the importance of looking at customer behaviors not just opinions. Specifically he cited the following; “Cameras, beacons, and app integrations give you extremely insightful information into some operational measures, for example: dwell times, queue abandonment, and conversion rate. When you couple this behavioral data with customer perceptions, you will have powerful new insights into the customer experience and how you can take action.”

Technology is empowering us in new ways to get an affordable and continuous view of reality. We can now monitor behaviors and trigger instant alerts when necessary, while in the background we amass huge amounts of data. By combining a series of behavioral data with subjective measures, and tying it back to specific and quantifiable business outcomes, you can get to a clear ROI and create a plan of action that quickly improves your revenue and reduces your costs.

To learn more about how to create a Location Based Service strategy that leverages your camera or beacon technology, contact Market Force. Our senior strategists have the expertise to blend the right processes and technologies to create cost effective solutions for leveraging your data assets. We look forward to an exciting discussion!

 

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Scott Griffith is Vice President, Executive Business Strategist at Market Force Information. Scott consults with client executives to design strategies that foster growth for companies in early stage ventures through IPO and beyond.

Feedback is a Gift: Managing Customer Complaints

Consumers expect us to be united and omni-present in understanding their experiences. That’s a tall order when feedback can come from so many different touchpoints. How can you listen and respond effectively to consumer feedback, especially to those negative comments that can hurt your brand or lose loyal customers? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Make sure you listen across a wide variety of touch points, such as your inbound phone calls (into head office or call center), emails, social posts, online chat, customer satisfaction surveys, in store quick-feedback pods, comment cards, etc.
     
  2. Incorporate new technology touchpoints that look at customer behaviors—not just opinions. Cameras, beacons, and app integrations give you extremely insightful information into some operational measures, for example: dwell times, queue abandonment, and conversion rate. When you couple this behavioral data with customer perceptions, you will have powerful new insights into the customer experience and how you can take action.
     
  3. Manage the complaint process consistently across all touchpoints. Ensure that each item—no matter whether it is a call, an email, or a social post—is appropriately handled with a closed loop system. Communications, escalations, fulfillment—all need to be handled in a single case management solution.
     
  4. Analyze your complaint data to find specific locations that generate most of the complaints—and link complaints to financial results. Allow data analysis to open your eyes. At Market Force, we have analyzed complaint data and consistently find two very important outcomes:
    -  The number of complaints per thousand transactions can vary widely, with some locations generating 3x to 4x the number of complaints averaged by other locations in the system.
    -  The number of complaints about a specific location is negatively correlated with financial metrics like same store sales growth.
     
  5. Act. We often find that clients can make it to Step 4 and then get stuck. It’s very difficult to actually act on this data. It requires consistent messaging and expectations to all locations, clear action plans, and then will to follow through and hold managers accountable for results. That takes time, and your closed loop reporting system can open your eyes to the behaviors of A, B, and C managers.

Feedback is a gift. Listen to what your customers say, respond consistently and effectively, and use the insights to hold your teams accountable to delivering exceptional service. 

Ben Dards is the Chief Technology Officer at Market Force Information and has been developing technology in the rapidly expanding customer experience management space for over 15 years. His experience working with over 250 clients in the space has informed development of reporting and visualisation platforms, an online app for collecting data, and unique tools empowering operators take action on data. 

Create a Restaurant Measurement System That Produces Real Results

Measurements are the key enablers to drive accountability and effective business and consumer analytics, as well as to help companies grow and strengthen their business performance. When I led a team at McDonald's that was charged with developing and implementing a world-class measurement system that centered on the critical drivers of restaurant performance and customer satisfaction, there were specific key elements/enablers that made it so effective. Let’s take a look at them.

1. Management buy-in before all else

The first and foremost step in creating a measurement system for your restaurant brand is to obtain support from senior management. Like any major initiative a company undertakes, it requires funding, people resources and management support to address any pushback within the organization regarding the need or direction of the project.

After the business case has been made and approved by senior management, you then need to create a cross-functional team that represents all of the critical segments of the business that will either be impacted or able to add value to the process design. This is critical to ensure you receive the best input on the design and structure of the measurement tools and processes. Plus, it lends credibility to the process, and helps turn those involved in the project design into advocates and supporters of the end product.

 

2. Set achievable and actionable metrics

The next step is to sit down with your team and ensure that the metrics or targets for the components you’re planning to evaluate possess the following characteristics:

  • Actionable – Are they in the control of the people who are being measured?
  • Realistic – Are they achievable or too far fetched?
  • Targeted – Make sure the targets are designed around the critical drivers for your business and customers’ expectations
  • Data-friendly – Data must be captured at the unit level to help determine root-causes and assist in developing effective action plans
3. Outsource the feedback gathering

Enlist quality third-party partners to help you capture and evaluate customer feedback on your brand and service, to assess in-store performance relative to your standards, and to gather employee input on their day-to-day experiences (e.g. customer satisfaction surveys, mystery shopping audits and employee commitment surveys). This is typically a more cost-effective way to capture the data versus trying to do it internally, and these are professionals who do this all day every day.

4. Tap technology – don’t undertake it all yourself

Leverage technology wherever possible to capture, input and report data performance at all levels of the organization. Spend the time upfront to perfect this process because, in the long run, it will guarantee the data is captured efficiently and reported back to the appropriate people in a friendly, summarized format. Technology will also assure the reports and analytics (e.g. unit rankings, top and bottom performers, trending, etc.) are performed in a cost-efficient manner, as they can easily start eating up lots of man-hours. The other benefit is that your performance data will be available any time and any place your staff wants to access it.

 

5. Don’t skip the training

Once the reporting is finalized – or even alongside it – you should be developing a comprehensive training program to educate all of the people in the system on all the tools, processes and reporting and, even more importantly, making it clear how they can tap them to drive increases in performance. The key here is to communicate early and often to all of the impacted people, so they have a thorough understanding of what, why and how the new performance improvement system operates.

6. Review and review again

Lastly, it's critical that you periodically review the measurement system and processes that you decide upon to make sure they’re still current and relative. Don’t go too long without taking stock because you’ll quickly fall behind in a fast-moving industry. Any significant enhancements or changes should be implemented ASAP.

Keep in mind that developing an effective measurement system will take time and dedicated resources. It's a journey and customers may not notice the performance improvements over night, but rest assured that they will eventually take note. When approached correctly, it will be a valuable tool to help drive performance improvements at both the unit and system level.

Any organization with numerous locations spread out geographically, such as multi-location restaurant brands, needs a quality measurement system to help them measure and assess performance consistently and timely. These tools are also the key enablers that will help you react to problems quickly, determine if action plans are working and begin building an accountability culture throughout the organization.

 

Jerry Calabrese was responsible for a global restaurant measurement system that evaluated and helped to significantly improve the performance of 32,000 restaurants in 100+ countries in the period from 2002 to 2008. As VP of Restaurant Measurement at McDonald’s Corporation, his leadership and implementation of tools and processes were a key enabler and significant factor in the financial and operational turnaround of the company during his tenure that helped McDonald’s improve its performance and brand image during that time period.

Consumer Experiences with Grocery Shopping Online

We all need food, and consumers have many choices for grocery retailers. Although competition for consumer dollars remains very strong revenue for US grocery retailers and is expected to rise at an average annual rate of 1.7% to $644.0 billion in 2021. As a part of that growth, analysts expect that online grocery sales will grow at an annualized rate of 13.2% to $24.4 billion in 2020 (IBIS WORLD 2015 US Industry Reports, Grocery and Supermarkets). That’s a lot of growth! Unfortunately, for traditional retail grocers, big-name tech companies, such as Amazon, eBay and Google, are beginning to offer and promote same-day delivery services for food. With their established delivery infrastructure, how can traditional retail grocers capture market share in this high growth area? You will need to deliver a great customer experience, and our recent consumer research shows that current experiences disappoint. Consumers try online ordering once, have a dissatisfying experience, and don’t try it again.

Our newly published 2016 retail grocery research was conducted with over 10,000 consumer responses in the US and 6,600 in the UK. One section of this research focused on the experience with online ordering for both click and collect and home delivery. The results showcase consumer frustrations with the process and big opportunities for brands to capitalize on loyalty by delivering a better online shopping experience. The first brand to get this offer right will have an exceptional advantage over other competitors in the marketplace.

In the US, a very small number of consumers have tried click and collect (4.3%). Of those, 24% said they had a dissatisfying experience, and about half have not tried it more than once. In the UK, a much larger proportion, 24%, said they had tried click and collect, but as with the US, almost one in four had a dissatisfying experience and about half only tried it one time. Home delivery results were more encouraging, with greater trial and reuse, but again, a high number of dissatisfied users. 

Attributes US UK
# of Respondents 10,025 6,648
% using click and collect 4.3% 24%
% dissatisfied with experience 24% 27%
% using only once 51% 42%
% using home delivery 15% 67%
% dissatisfied 21% 21%
% using only once 46% 24%

 

As grocers attempt to capture growth in online ordering and combat Amazon and Google, they will need to create great customer experiences. This means an easy to use online ordering system, high quality produce representing what customers would select for themselves, and true convenience. Groceries must be available or delivered on time and accommodate customer schedules. Grocery retailers can also leverage their private labels. Many consumers, especially millennials, find private label foods more innovative than branded products. That has led to the popularity of stores that sell premium private label foods such as Trader Joe’s and Aldi. Leveraging the value of strong private label brands will also help grocers win market share as the online grocery business grows.

To learn more about our industry research, click here to schedule a briefing. For more information about how Market Force can help you measure the online grocery experience, check out our Customer Survey solutions. We’re here to help you delight customers and improve loyalty and household spend!

Gail Funderburk serves as vertical practice lead for the grocery industry. She works with national grocery chains as well as regional providers, focusing on how to improve same store sales and capture market share in this fiercely competitive industry.

CX ROI: What's the value of investing?

There are two schools of thought around customer experience. The first school says, “Of course you have to focus on customers. Just do it.” The second says, “I have any number of initiatives where I need to spend money. Prove to me that my investment in CX has an ROI.” The latter is a tall order, but the link has been proven both by independent companies like Forrester and through modeling work by Market Force.

In July of 2015, Forrester released new research regarding the link between CX investments and ROI. The original research found a link between CX leaders versus CX laggards and stock returns, but also noted that there is lots of noise in the stock return data. In the new research, they focused on modeling to revenue in five different industries. The rich research (see www.Forrester.com, “Does Customer Experience Really Drive Business Success?” by Harley Manning) concludes that it does ... but with some caveats. For example, industries with lots of competition and freedom of choice from consumers show a much higher ROI on CX investments than industries where there is little choice and consumers are trapped.

Over the years, Market Force has created dozens of sophisticated models showing the relationship between customer experience and revenue, and indeed, the expected ROI when locations improved their performance on critical drivers of both. Example industries and KPI’s where we have found those relationships include:

  • Hotel: Increased Revenue Per Available Room (REVPar)
  • Petro Convenience: Volume of gas sold
  • Restaurant: Year Over Year Same Store Sales comps
  • Grocery: Annual household spend and same store sales
  • Retail Banking: Number of portfolio products purchased

The work is not for the faint of heart and requires much more than trying to generate a correlation between two columns of numbers. But the results open the eyes of executives and investors alike as they see the return on improving the customer experience. Read one of our case studies profiling a wireless retailer or visit our predictive modeling page to learn more about who you can make the case for your investment in customer experience.

  Download Our Case Study


As Chief Strategy Officer, Cheryl aligns Market Force's strategic direction with our clients' strategic objectives. She oversees the North American client base, Analytics and Insights, Winnipeg Operations and Marketing. She has a Ph.D. in social psychology and broad business experience in both private and public companies.

Three Ways to Increase Your Survey Response Rates

Every brand wants customers to provide feedback. That feedback ensures that the brand has solid metrics around the customer experience being delivered by each of its locations—and can then help each location meet or exceed various goals.

A 2015 research study conducted by Market Force showed that 83% of all consumers had completed at least one survey in the past 12 months, with an average of three to four being completed in that same time period. That’s good news. The bad news is that they are bombarded with requests to give their feedback. Both the market research and customer experience industries suffer from response fatigue. So how can you ensure every location in your brand receives the feedback they need to delight customers? 

1. Let customers use the channel they prefer to respond to you—and don’t make assumptions. In a recent pilot for a major petro-convenience retailer, Market Force tracked what channel consumers used to respond to surveys. You may be surprised:

  • 24% used the URL invitation to begin the survey
  • 12% scanned the QR code (no kidding!)
  • 40% used the SMS text code
  • 15% used Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

2. Make the survey visible. We see this mistake so often. The only visibility to the survey is the receipt tape—and that’s not often easily seen! Augment your receipt tapes with great materials that include the SMS text code, the QR code, the phone number, and the URL. Use window clings, table tents, print on bags and cups, have a “business card” at the register . . . all of these things will help you increase the chances that customers see the invitation and respond.

3. Offer a smart and flexible incentive. In our 2015 research consumers indicated that they are most likely to respond when they get a gift card or a have a bounce back—of course. That’s expensive, but if you can manage budget for that, it’s important to offer. Sweepstakes do work, but if you use them, make sure you have many chances of winning smaller prizes rather than one big prize with a low probability of winning. Finally, do consider giving the winner the option to contribute monies toward a charity supported by the brand. There are some do-gooders out there who prefer this and it’s great for building up the brand reputation and support philanthropic initiatives.

Getting a consistent flow of 20 to 30 surveys per month per location takes resources and planning. Make it your mission so every location has what they need to delight their customers and be an A player in your organization. For more information about Market Force’s approach to customer experience surveys:

  Download our Solution Sheet

Schedule a Briefing

To discuss your needs for improving performance for your multi-location brand, give us a call. We’d be happy to discuss best practices for measuring the customer experience and compliance to brand standards, using analytics to understand what matters most and the ROI for change, and technology solutions that integrate large quantities of data on one single platform. We look forward to a great discussion!

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